How To avoid Cheesecake Cracking. A great guide with tips and tricks to help you bake a perfect cheesecake. Includes how to use a water bath or bain marie

How To avoid Cheesecake Surface Cracking. A great guide with tips and tricks to help you bake a perfect cheesecake! | Lovefoodies.com

How to avoid cheesecake surface cracking is a great guide full of tips and advice to help you bake the perfect cheesecake without any cracks. In this guide, you will find some handy hints and learn why cheesecakes can crack around the sides or the surface, so when you come to bake your cheesecake you will be able to avoid the surface from cracking and end up with a nice smooth even cheesecake.

Have you ever baked a cheesecake and at the end of it all, felt disappointed when you see cracks appearing on the surface, as it is baking or cooling? I know I have! Of course, you can cover up the cracks with a topping or decoration, but for you as the baker, you know there are cracks, and perhaps you are a perfectionist, or you have a sense of not wanting to be defeated by those pesky cracks!

Surface cracks do not, in any way, affect the taste of your cheesecake, but it does affect the appearance, and also, you can get a 'sinking' effect on the top of the cake.  For me, it also affects my 'pride'! So cheesecake cracks are not 'bad, the taste is not affected. It is just the appearance that may not be as attractive. So don't worry, we can help you fix a cracked cheesecake so it doesn't happen again.

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So what I decided to do was write up a few notes to help you understand and see how you can avoid any cheesecake surface cracks in your future bakes.  Follow the tips and I am sure you will also be able to bake a crack free cheesecake.

Notes about surface cracking

This is a common complaint that cheesecakes will have surface cracks during or after baking so here's how to avoid cheesecake surface cracking.

There are several reasons this can happen, and there are some steps you can take to limit or prevent the cracks from developing. However, should you end up with cracks, don't be too upset about it! It happens to us all, and the easiest way to disguise any cracks is to add a dusting of sugar or fruits on the top of your cheesecake and no one will ever know. The flavor and texture are not compromised, just the appearance.

So here are some tips to help you avoid those pesky cracks from developing:

1. Bake the cheesecake in a water bath. This will help with an even, gentle temperature. and keep the air in the oven moist and keep the oven temperature low. Remember, Low and slow will give you a nice looking cake!

What is a water bath and why should you use a water bath?

What is a water bath you may ask? It's a method used, sometimes called a bain-marie which is hot water in a container, placed in the oven.

The reason it is used is to allow for a more even and gentle cooking temperature, and for cheesecakes, this is important to avoid cracking or the cheesecake turning rubbery. The steam evaporates and allows the moisture to circulate in the oven. The important thing to remember when using the water bath method is to make sure your baking pan has not got any gaps where the water from the water bath might be able to seep into your cake mixture.

So you must make sure you double wrap the outer baking pan with parchment and then foil as in the photo below.

2. Make sure you grease the sides of your baking pan well. During cooking, the cheesecake will shrink and pull away from the sides. If it isn't greased well, the cake will stick and pull, causing tension and cracking / splitting open in the middle and around the edges.

How to Avoid Cheesecake Cracks, showing outer wrapping on baking pan ready for water bath or bain marie

3. Don't bake the cheesecake for longer than stated. When the time is up, you should have a wobble in the middle of the cake. This will firm as it cools.

4. Make sure you combine the ingredients well and add the eggs right at the end. The trick is to mix the ingredients well so there are no lumps, and then once smooth, add the eggs gently beating.

The eggs have a tendency to hold air, so mix the eggs in well, but slowly, to avoid getting any air bubbles in to the batter.

During baking, air bubbles will expand and pop, leaving holes are areas of weakness which can contribute to the cracking.

How to Avoid Cheesecake Cracking showing cheesecake batter consistency

5. When you have put the mixture into the pan, you can also run a round-bladed knife around to get rid of any air bubbles you see. This is not too important if you have followed point 4 above and reduced the risk of incorporating too much air into the mixture when beating.

How to Avoid Cheesecake Cracking showing how to remove any air pockets in the batter prior to baking

6. If you have a recipe that does not call for cornflour/cornstarch, I would add a couple of tablespoons anyway, into the batter. This will reduce the chances of cracking as the starch will cling onto the eggs and stop them from over coagulating and thereby causing the cracking.

7. Finally, be patient and once the cooking time is up, leave the cheesecake in the switched-off and allow it to cool down inside the oven with the door closed. If you remove it too soon and try and cool it too quickly, it will crack!

How To Avoid Cheesecake Cracking showing final result of cheesecake after baking without any cracks
After Baking!

If you have a good recipe and follow it well, you should not experience severe cracking. So always look out for the tips above in the instructions and then you will know straight away if it is going to be a good recipe!

Happy Baking!

We'd love to hear from you and what you thought of our guide on How To Avoid Cheesecake Surface Cracking. Did you make any changes or add some other goodies? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy cooking!

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How To avoid Cheesecake Surface Cracking. A great guide with tips and tricks to help you bake a perfect cheesecake! | Lovefoodies.com

How To Avoid Cheesecake Cracking

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

How To avoid Cheesecake Surface Cracking. A great guide with tips and tricks to help you bake a perfect cheesecake!

Materials

  • Springform pan

Tools

  • Round bladed knife

Instructions

    1. Bake the cheesecake in a water bath. This will help with an even, gentle temperature. and keep the air in the oven moist and keep the oven temperature low. Remember, Low and slow will give you a nice-looking cake!
    2. Make sure you grease the sides of your baking pan well. During cooking, the cheesecake will shrink and pull away from the sides. If it isn't greased well, the cake will stick and pull, causing tension and cracking / splitting open in the middle and around the edges.
    3. Don't bake the cheesecake for longer than stated. When the time is up, you should have a wobble in the middle of the cake. This will firm as it cools.
    4. Make sure you combine the ingredients well, and add the eggs right at the end. The trick is to mix the ingredients well so there are no lumps, and then once smooth, add the eggs gently beating. The eggs have a tendency to hold air, so mix the eggs in well, but slowly, to avoid getting any air bubbles into the batter. (During baking, air bubbles will expand and pop, leaving holes are areas of weakness that can contribute to the cracking).
    5. When you have put the mixture into the pan, you can also run a round-bladed knife around to get rid of any air bubbles you see. This is not too important if you have followed point 4 above and reduced the risk of incorporating too much air into the mixture when beating.
    6. If you have a recipe that does not call for cornflour/cornstarch, I would add a couple of tablespoons anyway, into the batter. This will reduce the chances of cracking as the starch will cling onto the eggs and stop them from over coagulating and thereby causing the cracking.
    7. Finally, be patient and once the cooking time is up, leave the cheesecake in the switched-off and allow it to cool down inside the oven with the door closed. If you remove it too soon and try and cool it too quickly, it will crack!

Notes

If you have a good recipe and follow it well, you should not experience severe cracking. So always look out for the tips above in the instructions and then you will know straight away if it is going to be a good recipe!

Baked Cheesecakes

Here's a selection of delicious Baked Cheesecakes for you to enjoy

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36 thoughts shared

  1. I had another thought after reading through the comments again. As noted, overbeating the batter can cause cracks because too much air got worked into it. One thing to do to avoid the desire to overbeat is to bring cream cheese to room temp before beating. Sometimes I’ll even pop it in the microwave on defrost for 20 seconds or so to get it nice and soft first. Eggs should be at room temp too. You can pop them in warm water for 10 minutes to get them there if needed. I have let cream cheese – still sealed in packages/boxes sit on counter for up to 8 hours with no issues. I would not do that to a package that had been opened. Sour cream – if used in your recipe – should be at room temp too. This one bothers me but I guess it’s already soured, right? That’s what my friend who works in food safety says anyway! lol

  2. Water baths make me paranoid that water will leak in the cake (I’ve read too many stories about that). So I usually place the water bath in the oven while it preheats and put it on the rack directly below the cake. That works very well and leaving the door closed and off for it to slowly cool is important. Having it open just a little will cause the cake to crack during cooling. Learned that the hard way even if the recipe tells you to do so.

    1. I don’t know why but every time I do a water bath with any cake even if I use a heavy foil I get water in it. What can I do so this doesn’t happen anymore.

      1. I place the cheesecake pan in a plastic crock pot liner with a few paper towels in the bottom to absorb condensation before placing it in the water bath. No foil needed. I’ve never had a soggy crust using this method.

  3. Water baths work best. I used to bake for a cheesecake shop in LA and when I took over, they had a problem with cracking. I incorporated water baths in the oven and it solved the problem.

  4. Thank you for this recipe & hints. It was a real hit with family Will certainly be adding to my ‘Favourites’ Recipes

  5. The science behind a water bath. Water obtains a constant temp of 212. Any higher it turns to gas. Same with the batter. In an oven that is hotter, without the bath the outside of the cheesecake gets hotter than the middle and cooks faster getting a bit overdone while the middle is still cooking. This causes the cracking. The water bath allows the entire cheesecake to cook like the middle throughout the whole process and all of it gets done at the same time, and use a turkey bag or crockpot liner to keep the water out. Roll down the excess for 2 reasons, it will melt if it comes in contact with the oven elements or will droop into the batter.

  6. I always use a crockpot liner bag to hold my cheesecakes in their water bath. I have a large roasting pan that I sit the opened bag in – the cheesecake pan with the prepared crust gets set down inside. I take this time to roll down the sides of the bag so that it will not topple over onto the cheesecake while baking. Then I pour the prepared batter into the pan. I have a tea kettle with hot water ready and the oven preheated. I put the pan in the oven, pour the water in halfway up the sides of the cheesecake pan and shut things up.

    The other trick is to line the bottom and SIDES of the cheesecake pan with parchment paper lightly spritzed on BOTH sides with cooking spray. Use wooden clothes pins to hold the strips of paper in place on the sides until you have bottom circle of paper in place and crust pressed into place as well. I find chilling the crust in the freezer until ready to bake doesn’t hurt either. Just be sure to remove clothespins before baking!

    Once cheesecake has cooled, then been chilled overnight I get it out of the pan as follows: Get out desired platter for serving and one other platter or large flat tray or baking sheet that will also fit the size of the cheesecake. Remove side from cheesecake pan. Gently work the pieces of parchment paper that lined the sides of the cake free. Place a sheet of wax paper on top of the cheesecake. Turn the “extra” platter upside down and place on top of the cheesecake then flip it all over. The cheesecake will now be sitting upside down on the extra platter. Use a knife or other desired tool (an offset spatula works great) to gently work around the edge of the cheesecake pan bottom, loosening it carefully until you can remove it. Gently work up an edge of the parchment paper lining the bottom of the cheesecake and peel it off. Place the desired serving platter upside down on the bottom of the cheesecake, centering as much as possible. Flip everything upside down again. Remove “extra” platter and piece of waxed paper. Cheesecake should now be right side up on your serving platter. You can cover with ceran wrap spritzed lightly with cooking spray and put it back in the fridge until ready to add desired toppings and serve.

  7. To eliminate water leaking into your pan, use an oven turkey baking bag. You will need to cut down the height. You can even reuse the bags several times. I haven’t had a soggy crust since I started doing this.

    1. Hi Linda! That is a brilliant idea using the roasting bag. I’d never have thought to use it. Thank you for taking the time to share your tip!

      1. Yes, you prepare your cheesecake pan – I recommend lining it with parchment paper (see my other comment) – do your crust – fill it with your cheesecake batter. Open up the turkey bag as wide as it will go. Gently slip filled cheesecake pan into bag and adjust so it is sitting at the bottom. Carefully roll down sides of bag, going round and round until rolled down sides are about even with top of pan. This avoids the bag drooping into your batter as it is trying to cook. Put whole thing in center of much larger pan/roasting pan you are using for your water bath. Have a kettle of hot water ready. Open preheated oven, slide rack out a bit. Put roasting pan on that rack. Quickly pour hot water from kettle into pan, filling to about half way up sides of wrapped cheesecake pan. Slide oven rack back so it is in place and close oven door. Good luck!!!

  8. Another tip.
    After the baking is over, run a knife around the pan to keep the cake from pulling and cracking.
    Do this quick and then slide the cake back into the oven and allow the cake to remain there until the oven is completely cooled.
    Even though I grease the pan, I’ve still had the cake to crack. The key it to loosen the cake from the sides.

    My recipe calls for 1/4 cup flour. I mix this with a small amount of the batter to prevent lumps –( I do gravies this way too). I will use the cornstarch the next time.

    1. Hi Pam, It should be quite easy. First run a round bladed knife carefully around the sides of the pan, then carefully release the springform. The parchment will not stick to the cheesecake so you should be able to slide the whole cake on to a serving plate without any problem. I would suggest you chill the cake first so it really firms up well before attempting to do this, so at least you will be sure it won;t break.
      Hope that helps!

  9. Hi.. I have a question.. Do you reefill the water bath every now and then, or is it just one time filling..? Because after half an hour or so the water bath is getting dry.. My cake is always came out wet, and shrink a lot but for sure not from a leakage because inside the foil is dry.. Is it maybe because i reefill the water bath every now and then..?

    1. Hi Lydia, it sounds like you either did not put enough water in or the oven is too hot and so you have lost the water after 30 minutes of baking. You need to fill the bath so the water is around 1/2 way up the pan, and make sure the oven temperature is as the recipe you are using. Whilst baking it is VERY IMPORTANT you do not open the oven because this is one of the main causes of the cheesecake cracking or shrinking away from the sides of the pan. The oven needs to be at a very steady temperature, so when you open the door, even for a little time, it can affect the baking a lot. SO please try these tips, and it should work.

  10. How do you bundle your pan to make sure no moisture gets to the crust with the water bath? I always have problems regardless of whether the pan actually sits in a water bath or if I put the water bath below the pan to help keep moisture high without the submersion factor. I’ve used double layers of foil and still moisture gets to the crust. What’s the trick??

    1. Hi Brianne, that is always a tricky one!! If you look in step 2 of the tips, you see a photo showing the pan and the wrapping. For me, I’ve found using 2 layers of protection works the best, first the parchment and then the foil, both must be larger then the pan so the layers will come up the sides of the pan. I place both layers on the BASE of the pan, with the parchment layer on top. Then I clip the lid on to the base, so in the photo you will see the parchment showing on the base. That way, when you clip the side back to the base it is a very tight fit because of those 2 layers of paper and foil. Once it is clipped in place, I bring the excess foil and parchment up the sides of the pan. I cut the foil and paper large enough so when you do bring the layers up the side, they reach about 3/4 up the pan. Obviously when you fill the water bath, you’re only putting enough water to rise 1/3 or so up the pan so the water should not be able to find its way over the top of your lining layers. Hope that helps!

  11. Comment author image

    Raquel Spinelli

    says:

    My cheesecakes never crack! I use a high fat content recipe (Lindy’s) with about 4 tablespoons of a gluten free flour blend, grease the sides, use a bain marie and a long and slow cool down period but here’s my final trick – within the first 15 minutes or so of the cool down period, I run a long think knife around between the cake sides and the pan sides to separate the 2. It’s during this cool down period that the cake will crack because it’s ‘stuck’ to the sides as it contracts so best to separate it from the sides before this happens.

    1. Hi Raquel, yes! It is usually during the first stage of it cooling when it is really prone to cracking. Thanks for your tip with the knife. I haven’t tried that but it makes perfect sense. I’ll give it a go on my next cheesecake too!

      1. Comment author image

        Raquel Spinelli

        says:

        Thank you! Yes, if you run the knife around the cake soon after baking it can contract freely and I can assure you there will be no more crack worries.

  12. I can’t wait to try these tips! My cheesecakes always crack and now I think I can see why. I have since learnt from a different article how to fix the cracks once the cheesecake is cool which works like a charm but it’s not the same….I will definately try these tips next time! Thanks!

    1. Hi Erin, So glad you found the tips helpful! Please do come back and let us know how you get on after your next cheesecake creation!

  13. This was so informative but let me ask you I seem to have trouble always as far as putting my cheesecake in a bath. For some reason water gets into my cheesecake. I’m only putting foil around it, should I put something else ? Thank you in advance.

    Martha

    1. Hi Martha! I’m glad you found the tips useful. For the problem with the water getting in to the cheesecake, I suggest you use a strong foil, (or 2 layers if it is thin foil), and make sure the foil is large enough to go under the tin and UP THE SIDES by at least half the height of the pan. I tend to unroll the foil on to the table and place the baking tin on top of the foil so I can judge how much I need to use. Once the foil is under the pan and up the sides, use your hands and squash the foil all around the side of the tin with your hands so it is snug up against the pan. The water should not be able to get inside then. Make sure the foil is on the OUTSIDE of the pan too! That sounds a little obvious, but people have lined on the inside which is not as reliable.
      Hope this helps!! Also, when you fill the water bath, place your cheesecake in the bath pan first, then fill about 1/3 way up the cheesecake pan, no higher and definitely not above the foil mark.

  14. I have been baking cheese cake for about 8 year’s I read in a cheese cake book to NOT beat the batter smothered. To leave a few chunks in it. That it would be a better cheese cake. I have Always baked my cheese cakes that way. And everyone tells me they love them. I bake them slow and keep them in the oven for 1 hour they are Beautiful and good.

    1. Hi Alice, yes indeed, the key is to not get a load of air inside the batter because that is one of the main causes of the cracking when the air bubbles expand and then pop in the oven leaving air pockets, and of course the slow cool down is important too!
      Sounds like I need to try a slice of your next cheesecake!

      Thanks for writing in :)